President Barack Obama’s top political aide Wednesday defended the tax plan the president hammered out with Republican leaders, even as Democrats threaten to rebel over it.
David Axelrod insisted the most important thing was that Obama had been able to secure a two-year extension in current income tax rates for “the middle class.”
Democrats are angry that the extension also applies to high earners, as Republicans had demanded, and that Obama agreed to a Republican proposal on the estate tax.
“Our guys got taken to the cleaners,” top Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland, said Tuesday night.
Rep. Gary Ackerman, a New York Democrat, joked bitterly about the notion that Democrats hadn’t gotten anything out of the negotiations.
I disagree that we didn’t get anything — we got screwed,” he said.
Rep. Anthony Weiner, also a New York Democrat, accepted that politics involves compromise, but blasted Obama’s negotiating skills.
“I honor the president for wanting to try to solve these problems, and I’m not saying that you never compromise,” he said. “This is Washington. That’s how laws get passed. But he and his team just don’t seem to be any good at it, and that’s a real problem for a lot of Democrats.”
But Axelrod called the proposal “a good deal,” saying the president and his team “need to focus on what’s good for the country, what’s good for the American people.”
If no deal was passed, he said, “taxes would go up, people would lose their unemployment insurance and the economy would suffer.”
He also downplayed predictions that the tax deal — which does not include any revenue-raising measures — will increase the deficit by a huge amount.